Friday, June 27, 2008

A Super Store, Indeed

If Augusta National is golf heaven, then the PGA Superstore is heaven’s pro shop. Having grown up amidst a retail wasteland, it’s rare that . But when you enter a store dedicated to two sports (about 90% golf/10% tennis) and find yourself in a cavernous room whose size rivals stores with much broader inventories like Costco and Sports Authority, it’s hard to stay composed. As excited as it was for me, the casual duffer that I am, I can only imagine the childish glee a dedicated golfer feels as his eyes feast upon the treasure before him.

It’s literally mentally challenging to take in everything at once, to come to grips with the fact that this store’s putter department is the size of a typical sports store’s entire golf section. The staff , though knowledgeable, is not pushy. Buyers (or, rather, visitors) are free to roam and gawk without being coaxed into a purchase.

One whole wall of the store is lined with practice cages, half for private lessons and half for testing out equipment. Indeed, the PGA store takes all the guesswork out of buying a club; in front of the cages are hundreds of demo models of the latest drivers, all available to try out for free, and without the need to surrender a driver’s license or sign forms in advance.

The store carries not only every conceivable piece of golf equipment and attire, but also a full range of golf gifts for the true aficionado (golf art is a genre sui generis, with gaudy brushstrokes of various shades of green and yellow, often seen adorning the walls of dentists’ waiting areas).

While the store’s name may suggest otherwise, the other prime country club sport is nearly as well represented. A full-size indoor tennis court is located in the back of the store, replete with hundreds of demo rackets, as well as fresh white shoes to wear while serving.

The sports equipment business is a competitive one, with craigslist, eBay, and other online retailers only exacerbating the need for cutthroat pricing and regular discounts. The PGA Superstore, however, offers an experience unlike anything else in the city, no doubt earning the affection and loyalty of its customers, many of whom are likely some of the wealthiest citizens of Atlanta. It lives up to its name in every sense of the word.

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